Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty & Joy to Every Day of Your Life

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Overview

With the publication of Living A Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard originated the idea of creating an atmosphere of beauty and tranquility with simple touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. As a world-famous interior decorator, she has worked her magic on interiors large and small, from mansions and embassies to cottages and studio apartments. Through her writing and lectures, she has encouraged millions to brighten their lives and their homes by turning mundane tasks into small pleasurable ...

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Overview

With the publication of Living A Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard originated the idea of creating an atmosphere of beauty and tranquility with simple touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. As a world-famous interior decorator, she has worked her magic on interiors large and small, from mansions and embassies to cottages and studio apartments. Through her writing and lectures, she has encouraged millions to brighten their lives and their homes by turning mundane tasks into small pleasurable rituals that add beauty and joy to everything they do. Alexandra Stoddard's secrets of Living A Beautiful Life are yours.

With the publication of Living A Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard originated the idea of creating an atmosphere of beauty and tranquillity with simple touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

As a world-famous interior decorator, she has worked her madic on interiors large and small, from mansions and embassies to cottages and studio apartments. Though her writing and lectures, she has encouraged millions to brighten their lives and their homes by turning mundane tasks into small pleasurable rituals that add beauty and joy to everything they do. Alexandra Stoddard's secrets of Living A Beautiful Life are yours.

Offers more that 500 techniques for transforming the way we spend our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Interior designer Stoddard Style for Living, etc.t believes that ``only by paying careful attention to the simple details of daily tasks and to our immediate surroundings can we live vitally and beautifully all the days of our lives.'' Her syrupy, repetitious prescription for gaining control over life and uplifting the ordinary into restorative events is mostly commonsensical: i.e., making morning lists, using perfumed stationery, special china and bedding, finger bowls, massages, fresh produce, good lighting. But some readers will balk at bathing with citrus fruit slices, opening mail with a silver George III meat skewer or making the inside of the refrigerator ``a feast for the eye'' with flowers, and may be at a loss as to where they can purchase a ``Fragrance on the Line'' plastic disc of pure extract of perfume for insertion into a telephone mouthpiece. Unimaginative drawings are included. First serial to McCall's; BOMC alternate. October 10
Library Journal
Stoddard, interior decorator, author, and expert on beauty and design, now has numerous suggestions for making every day a special day. Inspiration for creative and colorful living is not only limited to ideas for the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Each of the six chapters ends with ``grace notes'' which are yet more ideas to make some of the small things in one's life enjoyable, whether it be letterwriting, weeding a garden, entertaining, or doing something special for a homebound person. As in her other two titles, Style for Living LJ 7/74 and A Child's Place LJ 9/15/77, individuality and personality are highly regarded. Recommended for public libraries. Mary Ann Wasick, West Allis P.L . , Wis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380705115
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1900
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 348,670
  • Product dimensions: 7.28 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Author of twenty-four books, Alexandra Stoddard is a sought-after speaker on the art of living. Through her lectures, articles, and books such as Living a Beautiful Life, Things I Want My Daughters to Know, Time Alive, Grace Notes, Open Your Eyes, and Feeling at Home, she has inspired millions to pursue more fulfilling lives. She lives with her husband in New York City and Stonington Village, Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Rituals

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition,
the end to which every enterprise and tlabour tends...
Samuel Johnson
The Rambler, November 10, 1750

Creating daily rituals-making daily tasks into times of enrichment through planning and special personal details-is a way to live a richer, more satisfying life. It may seem an obvious point-yet it is so easy to do! But in my work as an interior designer, I have found that many people need advice about redesigning the small details of everyday living: they need this much more than they need advice about how to design a brandnew living room.

Samuel Johnson is a hero of mine. His life was not an easy journey, yet he lived day by day with a sense of urgency, reverence and passion. "The process," he insisted, "I's the reality." As I've worked in the decorative arts over these past twenty-five years, I've become convinced that only by paying careful attention to the simple details of daily tasks and to our immediate surroundings can we live vitally and beautifully all the days of our lives. It takes a commitment to enjoy each day fully. And it takes respect for the significance of grace.

" Rituals" is my term for patterns you create in your everyday living that uplift the way you do ordinary things, so that a simple task rises to the level of something special, ceremonial, ritualistic.Rituals can elevate the way you feel about yourself, your life, and make you more peaceful and more free, more useful to others.

The difference between feeling bored and feeling alive, I believe, lies in astimulating daily life that is elevated into a fuller experience through pleasing details.

When these small moments are handled lovingly and with thought and care, they become life-enhancing and make you capable of doing more with the rest of your time.

I've observed inmy communications with people all over the world the tendency so many of us have to concentrate our energies on things that are for special occasions rather than on things we do, or use, every day. In design terms, this translates into working to get the living room just right, instead of concentrating on the rooms we spend the most time in, day after day-the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom. This 5-percent rule translates into a tendency to save up a sense of the special for a few outstanding events each year-for a particular party, anniversary or birthday celebration, a vacation. Such events comprise at the most 5 percent of our living time, and the remaining 95 percent is often merely walked through, in wistful anticipation of some later Joy. But what we all really want to do, I think, is live in the present, really enjoy every day, not put our lives on hold for that special 5 percent. We want to enjoy all the days of our lives, and especially the time spent in the sanctuary of home. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Instead of rushing through our lives to get somewhere-instead of saving up real living for later--I think it's important to remember that each single day is all we have. Single days experienced fully add up to a lifetime lived deeply and well. Today is your life-not yesterday and not tomorrow. If we have tomorrow, it will be a gift, but what we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows. If we make short shrift of our day-to-day lives, even if we live to experience "later," I don't believe we will know fully how to appreciate what we have. Living well is a habit, and rituals improve and reinforce good life habits.

That nimble writer of aphorisms Logan Pearsall Smith, in his book All Trivi,said: "There are two things to aim at in life: first,to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest ofmankind achieve the second."

Special events should be exclamation marks in our lives, but ordinary days need to be celebrations too, as meaningful and beautiful as the big events.

Small personal touches added to the things we do repeatedly create rituals that give us confidence and energy. You have power over your daily life; you can set up useful systems that will help you sustain these rituals in many satisfying ways.

As I look back on my childhood, I see now that I had an early tutor in this attitude toward daily rituals, and also in what became my field-interior design: my mother. She created a beautiful home environment, which helped me learn how to see and how to live. Writers have to find their own voices. I had to learn how to see.

Mother's innate aesthetic sense affected everything she did. When I think back to the meals we ate together as a family, I remember the fresh flowers on the table, the food attractively arranged on the plate and planned partly with color in mind. To Mother, truth was beauty lived every day. Not only did Mother teach me to appreciate beauty by her example, she also taught me an invaluable lessonthe importance of creating beauty each day, and how to do it. By her example she conveyed that beauty was essential for happiness and an alloy of love.

People's basic living needs are remarkably simple, and they haven't changed a great deal since the Stone Age. We eat, sleep and I bathe. We do these things every day.

Setting up beautiful details in these three areas can make an enormous difference to the quality of your life. There is a chapter in this book on each of these activities and ways in which to elevate them into richly restorative events.

There are also other habitual tasks which, when transformed by...

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 13, 2012

    It's the little things

    While I do not live Ms. Stoddard's lifestyle (no trips to Paris, or having gone around world as a teen), she does provide ideas to add beauty to our lives.
    In an age of overwhelming technology filled lives, she provides ideas to adding grace and beauty to our lives.
    Our homes should be a sanctuary from the world, a place of rest, re-charging.
    This book is perhaps taken too literally in its suggestions. It would be helpful to see it as an eye opener, to get your own creative juices flowing. If you're more "casual" in your taste, don't put "formal" objects in your home. The general idea is to fill your home with things that bring you pleasure, both to the eye and their use. If you like folk art, display it, if you can. Not everything is about money.
    I bought a wooden horse (literally, it is made of tree branches), at an antique store for five dollars! It doesn't matter that no one else likes it, I do. It brings me pleasure when I look at it. I like its simplicity.
    I think that's the general idea of the book bringing pleasure to your world.
    Bear in mind, Ms. Stoddard is an interior decorator and her ideas are going to be different.
    Enjoy the book for what it is, a reminder to enjoy beauty.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2000

    Easy ways to make like more gracious

    This book gives excellent ideas for beautifying life. The suggestions are simple and easy to follow. A more beautiful life makes one feel really good - it adds richness to everyday living.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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